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Induction of Grp78/BiP by translational block: activation of the Grp78 promoter by ATF4 through and upstream ATF/CRE site independent of the endoplasmic reticulum stress elements.

Luo S., Baumeister P., Yang S., Abcouwer S.F., Lee A.S.

Mammalian cells respond to endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress by attenuation of protein translation mediated through the PERK-eIF2alpha pathway and transcriptional activation of genes such as Grp78/BiP encoding ER chaperone proteins. The disruption of PERK function or the blocking of eIF2alpha Ser51 phosphorylation fails to attenuate translation after ER stress and also results in substantial impairment of Grp78/BiP induction by ER stress. While the activation of the Grp78 promoter by the ATF6 pathway through the endoplasmic reticulum stress elements (ERSEs) is well documented, the molecular mechanism linking PERK activation to Grp78 stress induction is unknown. We report here that ATF4, a transcription factor whose translation is up-regulated by the PERK-eIF2alpha pathway, can activate the Grp78 promoter independent of the ERSE. The ATF4-activating site is localized to an ATF/CRE sequence upstream of the ERSEs and is distinct from the C/EBP-ATF composite site previously identified as the ATF4 binding site in the ER stress-inducible chop promoter. In vitro translated ATF4 binding to the ATF/CRE site requires other nuclear co-factors from non-stressed cells, forming a complex that exhibits identical electrophoretic mobility as a thapsigargin-stress induced complex. Here we have identified the closely related ATF1 and CREB1 as nuclear co-factors that form in vivo complexes with endogenous ATF4. ER stress induces CREB1 phosphorylation and ATF1/CREB1 binding to the Grp78 promoter. Through the use of adenoviral vector expression systems, we provide evidence that when ATF4 function is suppressed and its binding partners are not able to compensate for its function, Grp78 induction by Tg and Tu is partially inhibited. Our studies resolve a mechanism responsible for inhibition of Grp78 mRNA induction by ER stress in cells that are functionally null for PERK or devoid of eIF2alpha phosphorylation.

J. Biol. Chem. 278:37375-37385(2003) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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